Ideas for Organizing Team Building Activities

As many experienced HR managers already know, when you have a team that works well together, you also have a team that’s more effective and productive. On the other hand, such teams don’t simply fall from the sky – HR managers work hard to make it happen. For some employees, hearing the words “team building” instantly makes them develop migraines from rolling their eyes over. This is because, even though they should be, not many team building activities are actually fun. We’ve helped put together a few ideas that will help you organize fun and exciting team building activities that employees will enjoy.

Paper plane competition

If you’d like to help your team work better together, throw a small competition in. You can organize a paper plane race, but everyone has to build their own. Luckily, all you need to have is an empty hallway, a bit of tape that you are going to use to mark the launch line, and a measuring stick (or a measuring tape). Alternatively, you can play it outside when it’s not too windy. The trick is to give each team a piece of card stock that they will have to use to build their paper place, and to help them out a bit, make sure to show them several different airplane designs they can try to replicate. The team that builds the plane that will fly the farthest is the winner. Also, everyone should decorate their planes so the judge knows which plane belongs to which team.

Play dare Jenga

For this activity, you need a Jenga set, preferably the one that has extra large blocks. The good side of this activity is that it’s simple to set up and allows players to really test their limits. Each block should have a dare written on it (you can write it on a piece of paper and tape it to each block). Don’t go wild with dares, though – 15 pushups/squats, singing “Baby Shark”, and wearing an ugly sweater or a hat for the rest of the day are funny and mild enough for everyone to accept and enjoy doing them. Make sure each block has a dare, tack them up just like in Jenga, and invite everyone to come and play. Another great thing is that this can easily be done as a relaxing Friday activity and doesn’t require much preparation.

Organize a bike ride

There are only a few things that are more fun than leaving the city and going exploring for a day, so why not use this activity to bring your team closer together? You don’t have to spend a fortune and organize a sightseeing tour of another city – all you need are bikes and a bit of planning. There are probably many interesting places to see around the city, and when you do a bit of research, pick a spot you would like to take your team to. Invite everyone on a biking tour, and see how well they are all getting along outside the office. You can find great Bikes Online if you know that some of the employees don’t have their own bikes, and make sure everyone brings their sunglasses and water bottles. Once you get to the place, throw a picnic and play board games, or just allow everyone to relax and explore the environment.

Do a ‘Zombie escape’

For this activity, you’re going to need a bit more room, a rope, one key, and a stack of clues (you can use anything between 5 and 1, depending on how much time you’re planning to have the team spend on this activity). Before the game start, have one team member volunteer to play the zombie, and encourage them to go all in: arms outstretched, screeching “braaaiiins,” and stumbling around. Invite everyone to an empty room, turn around and dramatically “lock” the door, and after that point out to the “zombie” who is tied in the corner of the room. Even though they are tied, the zombie should have a foot of leeway, and every five minutes they get another foot of rope. In the meantime, the team has to work together to solve the puzzles and find the hidden key so they can leave the room before they get “eaten”.

Take them on a paintball field

No matter how well the team gets along, sometimes the stress of everyday office life and deadlines gets to you. If people are feeling frustrated and overworked, it might be a good idea to take them outside and engage them in an interesting and uncommon activity. Paintball is considered one of the best team building activities because it allows everyone to engage all of their senses and handle all of their frustrations and stress in a healthy way. Divide the people properly: bosses and CEOs shouldn’t be in the same team, but they should stand with their employees. People will love having an ‘excuse’ to shoot their superiors, they will develop their communication and will work much better in a team. In the end, you will have a group of exhausted and happy people who have spent the day outside, shooting others with paintball guns, and having fun.

Walking on eggshells

For this exercise, you are going to have to buy a carton of eggs, and find some simple construction materials such as plastic wrap, straws, rubber bands, balloons, newspaper, some tape, etc. Also, for this exercise, you need to find a place that you won’t mind getting messy (think about parking lots, these are always a good idea because nobody would mind). Divide the entire group into several smaller teams, had them the materials and an egg, and give them about half an hour to come up with a solution that will help protect the egg. They can construct a box, a bag, a carrier, or any other thing they think that will protect the egg. The task is to drop the egg from a certain height (choose the height before you start) and not break it. If you happen to end up with a tie, you can increase the height a bit until there is only one winner. Alternatively, you can boil the eggs first and have the competition inside.

Minefield

If you have an ambitious team on your hands, you can try having them go through a “minefield”. Fortunately, you don’t need much preparation, just an empty room (or even an empty hallway) and some common office items (boxes, desks, shelves, trash cans, fruit bowls, etc). Use these office items to create a set of obstacles (set the mines, so to speak). Group should not be divided into teams but into pairs, and one of the partners should wear a blindfold. The other person is the ‘responsible’ one and they should guide the blindfolded person through the ‘minefield’ without having them bump into or step onto any obstacle. The trick is that the person who is supposed to guide is not allowed to set foot onto the field, but has to only use their voice to help the other navigate. You can start off slowly ad then make it progressively difficult. In the end, the pairs will learn to listen more carefully and give clearer and simpler instructions.

Spider web, spider web…

If you’d like to test everyone’s agility and flexibility, have them play the “spider web” game .for this, you will need to tape a couple of pieces of string across a doorway at different heights. One should be placed at approximately three-and-a-half feet while the other should be put a bit higher, at about five feet. Explain the rules: each string is a dangerous and highly poisonous spider web that melts the flesh of everyone that touches it (or something equally dramatic). Divide the people into two (or more) teams and instruct them to help each other go through the opening without touching the strings. After everyone is on the other side, tape more pieces of string, and make it more difficult.

Online karaoke party

Even if all of your company’s employees are working remotely because of corona virus, there are still some funny games you can play online to help bring them all closer together. Throw an online karaoke party for everyone! You don’t need much – you don’t have to book a place, bring the machine, and negotiate the price of drinks. Everyone should just stay at home and use their computers to try and be the best karaoke singers in the company. If you’d like to take it to the next level, make it into a competition: hand out points, make up rules, and compare everyone’s high scores to find winners.

Whose office?

Another useful icebreaking game you can play remotely is the “Whose office is it?” Everyone should send you several photos of their home office beforehand, and you can use any file sharing tool to show them to the rest of the team. You can spice it up and ask about specific coffee mugs, plants, cushions, and wall décor too. You can send one photo by one or you can send them all at once, mark them with numbers or symbols, and have people guess whose photos is whose. If you want to take it to the next level, try having everyone guess whose desktop background is it, or even compare the views of the office window.

If you’re hoping to have a team that’s going to be successful, work well together, and be incredibly effective, you really have to make sure that your team-building skills are on point. Activities that are meant to bring your team together are many, and just because something sounds great on paper, doesn’t mean it will work in real life. Get to know your team a bit better before you suggest any activities, it will save you a lot of trouble (and some money too). In the end, if you do it right, you’ll help your team connect and function a lot better, resulting in a better workplace dynamic.

2020 The Year of Remote Work

It is only June, and thanks to COVID-19, people have declared 2020 as the year of remote work. While telecommuting seemed beyond reach in most industries only a few months ago, this year it has become a necessity. The pandemic has forced employers to come up with novel and successful ways to keep their businesses afloat. For this reason, many companies have asked their employees to work from home. Google has taken the whole matter a step further and advised remote work to its workforce for the rest of the year. Even though some might struggle with this work mode, it is actually quite beneficial for both employers and employees.

Most employees are used to going to work and spending eight or more hours in the office. At first, the sudden change of routine may be strange for them. However, once they recover from the initial shock, they stand to gain quite a lot.  Working from the comfort of their home can considerably boost their productivity and performance. Also, it can have a huge impact on their mental and physical health as well.

The employees no longer have to waste their time commuting. They will be more punctual because traffic jams and parking spaces don’t pose an issue for them in the morning. Once they log on to the selected platform, they are in the workplace ready to reach their daily goals. As a result, travel and accommodation expenses are significantly reduced. If the companies ultimately switch to this work mode, it will bring substantial benefits to the environment too. The reduction of toxic emissions and pollution raises awareness on environmental protection.

What worries employers the most in this situation is employee productivity and performance. There are many distractions at home and most employees are forced to turn their space for relaxation into an office. However, with the right internal communication app, the employers have nothing to worry about. Effective communication is one of the pillars of a successful business. These collaborative business solutions keep everyone well informed and on the same page. Dropbox, Google Hangouts, or Google Drive allows employees to communicate and cooperate on different projects and documents simultaneously. The social aspect of the workplace isn’t neglected as coworkers now use online group chats instead of the good old chatting by the water cooler. Still, for boosting employee performance, everyone has to agree on the preferred communication tool. Forcing tools and channels might cause the opposite effect.

While it seems the pandemic is coming to an end, its consequences are yet to be felt in the months to come. Among good things to come out of this mess is definitely a stronger bond between colleagues. When employees have good work relationships with their coworkers and managers, it positively reflects on the business. Friendship and team spirit largely contribute to creating a healthy work environment. Working under such optimum conditions improves employee productivity and spurs their collaboration. Managers now than ever have to invest time and effort in team building activities and a pleasant work atmosphere. As a result, the employees will maintain their sense of belonging and actively contribute to reaching the corporate aims.

In the long term, remote work may change the whole attitude about work and provide some new perspectives. Millennials are swooping in and along with talent, come with certain expectations about the workplace and work process itself. One of their priorities is having a healthy work-life balance. For this reason, the younger workforce is largely attracted by flexible schedules and working hours. This would enable them to provide for themselves and their families while also pursuing other activities. If the companies want to keep and compete for top talent in the future, they have to make fundamental changes in their management. Allowing the employees to plan their own schedule might prove to be crucial when offering jobs to potential associates. Similarly, instead of being compensated for the hours they spent working, they would like to be rewarded for their accomplishments.

To conclude, due to the unprecedented situation, most companies have started working remotely. Although it seemed quite a challenge, employers have discovered numerous perks of this work mode. Employees are right on time for work and the commuting expenses are significantly reduced. On the other hand, what is boosted are productivity, communication, and collaboration. Through proper communication channels, everyone gets timely updates. As a result, they complete work tasks promptly and without any delays. Besides, remote work enhances work-life balance which is one of the top priorities of the millennials. Their work-related expectations will without a doubt, shape the workplace and the whole work culture in the years to come.

Tips for Reopening Your Business in the Wake of COVID-19

Employee safety in the wake of COVID-19 is more of an issue than ever before. With the concerns of the pandemic atop the economic difficulties of reopening a business or starting a new one, human resources now means giving employees and coworkers the tools to stay safe and maintain social distancing.

 

No matter the challenges, you can create an office space that is safe, sustainable, and functional. All it takes are the right steps and tools to help you open or reopen your workplace post-coronavirus. 

 

Here are five tips for reopening your business safely and successfully:

#1: Write or Rewrite Your Business Plan

Whether you are planning to start a business fresh or are restarting after COVID-19 shutdowns, the pandemic has changed many factors. Reconsider how you’ll conduct business and employee procedures from the ground up. This means reworking your business plan. 

 

A business plan can include everything from long-term goals to the structure of day-to-day procedures. The most important factor involved in the business plan are the financials. From a value proposition to financial projections, the state of the pandemic economy has likely affected your plans. Rework your business plan when starting or restarting a business to set clear and updated expectations for yourself, your employees, or your investors. 

 

#2: Calculate the Costs

 

Successfully restarting a business after the pandemic comes down to a realistic calculation of the costs involved. Take inventory of all expected expenses that come with returning to an office space, potentially onboarding new employees, and restructuring for social distancing.

 

Use a helpful budgeting tool to take inventory and calculate these costs. Mobile apps and digital tools help you keep track of all expenses on the go as you work out a realistic cost analysis.

 

Take advantage of the mobility and flexibility offered by budgeting apps as you consider the costs surrounding reopening maintenance, furnishings, equipment, personnel, and so much more. 

 

#3: Factor in Reopening Procedures

 

With a physical office location, you need to take into account the maintenance procedures that will be required before moving employees back to the office. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list the dangers of a dormant building, citing the risk of mold and Legionella. Prevent problems by taking the proper steps when returning to the office. 

 

Start by developing a plan for water management and ensure that the water heater in your building is functioning properly. Then, flush your water lines with hot and cold water. This is vital in killing Legionella growth and replacing all water in the building’s piping with fresh, clean water. 

 

Follow up with ensuring that all water storage and maintenance systems like cooling towers, sprinkler systems, and eye wash stations are clean and functional. Finally, disinfect all water fountains and features.

 

There are costs associated with these necessary procedures that you’ll need to prepare for and document, but completing them helps guarantee employee safety. 

#4: Redesign Your Space

Your original office layout likely isn’t up to the standards of a post-COVID social distancing world. This means a redesign of your workspace, including areas you might not have considered. Not only should the office layout be managed to maintain a distance of six feet between employees, rooms, and walkways that typically saw more traffic should be adjusted for the new normal.

 

Create indicators in hallways and bathrooms to maintain one-way traffic or individual use so that your coworkers aren’t in close quarters when they don’t have to be. Breakroom furniture and layouts should be adjusted to accommodate fewer individuals at a time. Sanitization stations and equipment should be accessible and neatly organized.

 

A comprehensive redesign will allow the members of your team to keep a safe distance while maintaining functionality but take the opportunity to have fun with your work environment. Consider redecorating with sustainable decor. Add some plants. Integrate color. Create a fun, thriving workplace despite the added anxiety of social distancing rules that will help your employees and coworkers adjust to the new normal. 

#5: Focus on Employee Safety

First and foremost should always be the safety of those working in an office. Consider measures you can implement to enhance employee safety and combat the pandemic. 

 

There are many different strategies you can integrate into your redesigned business plan; here are just a few ideas:

 

  • Contract healthcare professionals to monitor temperatures of those entering the building
  • Educate and be consistent on proper facemask procedures
  • Provide sanitizing equipment and individual office supplies to reduce sharing
  • Limit the number of employees on break and in shared spaces at any given time
  • Allow able employees to work from home
  • Integrate smart solutions for visitor monitoring and employee security

 

Start with your broad business plan and narrow it to specific ways you can maintain employee safety. In the wake of COVID-19, businesses need to implement every policy they can for team member comfort and morale. These are but a few suggestions for a safer future. 

 

By following these strategies to redesign your business before opening or reopening, you will provide your team with a safe office environment with the resources they need to be successful. 

 

How Did COVID 19 Affect People with Disabilities

COVID 19 presents a global threat, and the pandemic is particularly dangerous for many groups, including the elderly, people who already have a health condition, and people with disabilities. Everyone in the world is affected by this crisis in some way or another.

The risks are not just health-related. The global economy has suffered a lot thanks to the virus, and many people are endangered, as they can’t provide for themselves and their families. Some people are given opportunities to work from home and keep their income steady, while others don’t have the same luxury. Read on for a thorough breakdown of how COVID 19 affects people with disabilities.

1. Not All Disabled People Are Affected the Same Way

We shouldn’t bundle all people within a group together, because being disabled can be a lot of different things. What we’re getting at, is that some disabled persons live alone, and cope with it just fine, while others depend on help from others.

A lot of disabled people live in groups, such as nursing homes. People who live in such facilities are impossible to isolate. As everyone already knows, isolation is the best prevention against COVID 19. The people who can’t isolate themselves are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus.

Imagine living in close quarters with many other disabled people, with no chance of isolation. In those conditions, people with disabilities are at high risk of contracting COVID 19, because they aren’t just in contact with other invalids, they are also in contact with the helping staff. It’s not a single doctor or nurse who takes care of them, they’re a dozen.

The medical staff is very exposed to COVID 19, and they take the biggest risks. Furthermore, their patients are at risk too, meaning that medical facilities aren’t exactly the safest right now. Finally, we can conclude that people with disabilities aren’t affected equally, and their disability isn’t the biggest risk. On the contrary, the risk lies in their living arrangements and their possible exposure to COVID 19.

2. Economic Stability Is a Huge Factor Too

The harsh reality in any crisis is that well-situated people are generally safer than those with low or no income at all. The same goes for the disabled. Being rich or having some financial backing goes a long way for treating any medical condition, and preventing exposure to a virus as widespread as COVID 19.

Money is not a bulletproof shield, but it is a shield of sorts. In a state of emergency, it can help immensely because it can provide the necessary protection and coping mechanisms. Generally speaking, people with disabilities usually aren’t as financially stable as those with no medical conditions. People who live in countries with proper social care systems don’t have to worry as much as those in low-income countries.

Money can get you medical, hygiene, and food supplies to last in this difficult situation. If you have money to spare, you can pay for various delivery services, which are extremely popular these days. Most people, not just those with disabilities, don’t have big savings for dark days.

You can say we’re all experiencing those dark times right now. Social service programs that help the disabled financially aren’t exactly giving out enough money to provide savings. Those cheques are usually instantly spent on basic needs. If you’re disabled and manage to get a job, which is incredibly difficult right now, you can say goodbye to the social support cheques.

3. Is Working an Option?

People with disabilities have a much harder time finding a job at any time, let alone during a crisis. Some disabled people are lucky enough to have jobs that can be done from home. They are in the best position right now because they have a steady income and they can self-isolate.

On the other side are people with disabilities whose work involves human contact. They’re at risk, and there’s nothing to be done because they can’t just go and work from home. If they leave their job, they won’t have any income unless they manage to get some social security fast. What’s better, to be poor and “safe”, or to keep your job and stay exposed to COVID 19? There’s no right answer to that question since both options are far from perfect.

If you’d like to help people with disabilities in this time of crisis, it’s best to apply for the NDIS registration process at Provider Plus. It’s a very difficult process, so you shouldn’t do it without professional help. Provider Plus is an all-in-one service, which can help your business become an NDIS registered provider in no time. They have a 100% approval rate for all their clients, which speaks volumes about their success.

Conclusion

Even though maintaining physical health is important, we shouldn’t disregard mental health either. This global state of alert is not beneficial to the mental state of anyone. Isolation is more difficult for those with mental issues. They must be given some leeway, and the right to occasionally go outside and take a breather.

People with disabilities are usually bundled together, under the same banner, but they are not the same. Their disabilities differ, some have physical disabilities, while others have mental health conditions. Each of these conditions should be addressed specifically, and these people should be given appropriate help, especially in these dire circumstances.

Is Drug Testing at Workplace a Good Idea?

Here we have a slightly controversial topic on our hands. Objectively looking drug testing at the workplace has its benefits and of course, it has its drawbacks.

Many companies consider drug testing at the workplace a fair policy and safety precaution – they are not only protecting their business but their employees as well. There are even laws and regulations regarding workplace drug abuse.

Let’s start with all the types of drug testing methods available for workplace testing and work towards whether or not it’s a good idea.

Types of drug testing methods

A drug test determines whether or not an employee is using any illegal substances. Currently, many employers, as well as employees, are starting to realize the importance of this policy. This is also why both employees and employers should be aware of all the possible types of drug testing methods.

The most important thing to know is that you have options as there are at least five types of methods available for workplace drug testing.

The first option is the most common option used for drug testing and that’s a urine drug test. If someone has been using drugs recently, the traces of it will most definitely be detected in the urine.

While urine drug testing is the most common type of drug testing, a saliva drug test is the most popular one. This type of test is pretty self-explanatory and the reason for being so popular is due to its less invasive nature. Besides this method is not as expensive as all others.

The hair testing method is another good way of seeing whether a person has been using drugs. However, many people claim that this method is no good because it doesn’t measure current drug use but it can detect if someone used months before – which is not the point when it comes to workplace drug testing.

Another method includes blood testing. This method is the most invasive one and at the same time the most expensive out of all. And even if this method is often avoided because of its cost and invasiveness, it’s the best way to detect the presence of substances as well as the exact amount of substances used.

The fifth method includes perspiration testing. This method is fairly new and it requires wearing a sweat path on the skin for a couple of days. This patch will detect the presence of drugs through perspiration.

Benefits of drug testing at the workplace

Safety of the employees

The number one reason why drug testing at the workplace is a good idea is safety. Every employer should provide a healthy and safe work environment. One of the ways to do this is to implement the drug testing policy.

Workplace injuries and hazardous situations are often related to substance use. People who use drugs are less aware and they also tend to be less concerned about their own safety and the safety of others. Additionally, drugs tend to slow reaction time which means that those who use drugs are at risk and pose a risk to their coworkers as well.

Drug testing at the workplace will ensure that all employees are safe and healthy and it will prevent a dangerous situation, especially in high-risk jobs.

Avoiding legal problems

The drug-testing program can save you a lot of troubles, especially those of a legal kind. Just imagine how many legal problems can an employee who uses drugs cause. They can endanger not only their own lives but the lives of their coworkers as well as your own company.

Workplace drug testing program ensures that all your employees are safe, that the environment that they work in is also safe and that no one poses any risk.

Avoiding problems and maintaining good company image

Employees who use drugs can’t perform their duties to the best of their abilities. Drug intoxication causes many problems, and one of those includes making mistakes and giving poor results at work. Consequently, this affects the image of your company.

The best way to ensure that your employees are giving the best possible results and thus maintaining a good public image of your company is to implement a drug testing policy into your company.

Drawbacks of drug testing at the workplace

Invasion of privacy

Drug testing at the workplace is often seen as an invasion of privacy. Many employees feel like drug testing is a violation of their privacy, their freedom and also a lack of trust from their employer.

This is especially true in cases of random drug testing when a random employee is chosen to do the test. That individual may feel resentful and insulted.

Expensive drug tests

As mentioned above, there are several different types of drug tests and some of them can be pretty costly. This is the main reason why so many employers tend to stay away from implementing drug testing programs.

Bottom line is that in many cases the benefits of workplace drug testing outweigh the drawbacks. Nothing beats the safety of your employees and the safety of the work environment.

There are different methods of drug testing that don’t have to be all that expensive and yet they do the work. Ultimately, the decision about whether drug testing at the workplace is a good idea or not is on the employer.

The Impact of COVID-19 On SEO

All across the globe, the pandemic of COVID-19 has changed people’s lives and not for the better. However, hard as these measures may be on the lives of individuals, the impact on society as a whole can be just as terrifying. People are losing their jobs, enterprises are getting shut down and even those that are still running are worried about their future. Even industries that exist in the digital environment are affected by all that is going on.

A perfect example of this is the industry of digital marketing, specifically the field of search engine optimization (SEO). This impact, nonetheless, is not so easy to analyze, mostly due to the fact that it has so many contextual factors to take into consideration. So, in order to further examine the effects of COVID-19 on SEO, we need to cover the impact on the technical aspect of SEO and the state of the industry as a whole. Here’s what you need to know!

1. Essential vs. non-essential employees

While it may be true that a lot of people are getting jobless due to the fact that their workplace is getting shut down, when it comes to those working in the digital environment, things are not so clear-cut. In fact, the majority of digital marketing agencies already employ telecommuters and allow their employees to work from home (if only a day or two every week). This means that the structure of the workforce in the industry shouldn’t change that much. With adequate tools like web conferencing software, collaboration software and employee management software, the majority of SEO agencies will be able to efficiently transfer all of their work into the digital environment.

2. The clients

Other than the employment status of their staff, SEO agencies are mostly concerned by the willingness of their clients to invest. First of all, a lot of businesses are seeing a massive fall in workload and revenue. Now, due to the fact that their marketing budget is usually a percentage of their average annual revenue, a lot of enterprises might start pulling their investment. On the other hand, online businesses are currently seeing an increase in workload, seeing as how people are spending more time at home and, therefore, have more time for online services. They also consume far more content. Also, due to the fact that the majority of them are looking to avoid crowded malls, e-commerce is also more popular than ever before.

Keep in mind that online businesses are probably the ones that were the most eager to invest in SEO, to begin with, seeing as how their SERPs directly affect their traffic and their revenue. Since now the competitiveness is even higher, the majority of these enterprises realize that scaling down on their marketing spending is definitely not a wise idea. After all, after every recession, those who managed to maintain continuity are the ones who get back on track the fastest.

Finally, we need to try and figure out which industries are marking the biggest growth amidst all of this. First of all, you have the retail industry which is marking a 34 percent spike in March. The gaming industry is also huge, seeing as how even the most adventurous people are now forced to commit themselves to indoor activities. For this very reason, social media is also marking a substantial increase (about 29 percent). However, industries like travel and tourism, as well as the event industry, are on an expected decline. For how long will this trend last… well, it’s hard to tell at the moment.

3. The content

Content marketing is pivotal to any successful off-site SEO project. Now, when it comes to the content itself, it’s more than clear that people nowadays are mostly concerned with the epidemic, which is why content dealing with this sensitive topic has the greatest CTR. Nonetheless, seeing as how we’re talking about something that people are genuinely interest and affectionate about, it’s vital that content creators realize that it’s their moral duty to do these things right. This is why you need to ask yourself is your use of keywords related to coronavirus relevant to your topic, as well as – is it ethical? This is especially true if the topic is more opinion than fact-based.

Naturally, due to the fact that they’re bored senseless, people are also looking for content that will provide them with fun indoor activities. Therefore, DIY projects are far more popular than ever before. Another major boost in popularity can be seen in the field of microlearning. More and more people are exploiting this chance to take online courses but also to work on things they always wanted to try out but never had the time or energy to pursue. For instance, those with more athletic aptitude are more likely to look up calisthenics workout routines and tips.

4. Professional assistance

There are a lot of guides and tools out there that promise small business owners an opportunity to handle their own digital marketing campaign. The thing is, however, that the end result is never quite the same. Sure, a DIY SEO project can help you somewhat improve your rank, however, in a world where 33 percent of all searches end with the No.1 result, can you really afford to settle for being on the first page? The truth is that those who plan to stay competitive want to invest in professional SEO services. This way, they can get an end-to-end SEO project with guaranteed results and continuity in terms of ranking.

5. On-site optimization and updates

A lot of things have changed due to coronavirus and its consequences. Having proper metadata is as vital as it ever was, nevertheless, there are other factors in play, as well. For example, you might have been forced to close your brick and mortar office, which is why you need to update the info on your website. If you were forced to downsize your team and therefore operate on a smaller capacity, you need to let your audience know this in advance.

For instance, companies in the e-commerce industry are receiving an unprecedented number of orders on a daily basis, which causes a lot of logistical delays. It is, therefore, a great move to address your audience about this issue either immediately upon entering your site or via email outreach. You can even promise them special rewards after the crisis is over, nevertheless, this is a more of a PR issue than it is an SEO one.

6. Watch up for Google updates

While it is true that google updates are a fairly regular occurrence, you need to understand that the situation at the moment might facilitate these things a bit. Why? Well, first of all, we’ve mentioned the fact that there’s much more content being both published and consumed than is usual. Second, it’s important to mention that there’s a lot of false information circling around, which can potentially damage the reputation of the search engine as a whole. Therefore, it’s logical to expect that the staff behind the algorithm will be much more alert and active in the following weeks.

7. Survey your audience more regularly

Like Google, businesses and digital marketers need to be quicker to change and adapt, as well. As we’ve mentioned before, the behavior patterns of your audience have changed overnight and marketers can no longer stick to pre-COVID-19 numbers. The amount of time that people spend on social media, blogs and YouTube, the quality of content and many other factors have their own metrics that need to be adjusted. Therefore, it is pivotal for every serious digital marketer to start new surveys and see what the numbers show.

In conclusion

As you can see, even amidst the crisis, there’s no rest for those who want to lead their business towards a brighter future. Businesses that aim to survive the incoming crisis need to find a way to stay competitive. Seeing as how the majority of people in self-isolation turn to the internet for answers and pastime, SEO might just be the most effective way of achieving this.

Ways Businesses Can Use SEO to Combat Coronavirus Impact

While it is true that some businesses and industries are suffering due to the effects of COVID-19 on the industry and society, not all businesses are doing as badly in these conditions. You see, while people are being locked in their homes, which means that they’re either forced to work as telecommuters or are losing their jobs, for some businesses, there are also those who can see past the crisis. Naturally, even those businesses that get shut down will look towards rising again, after the dust has settled. Speaking of which, why would you have to start from scratch? With the help of SEO (and digital marketing, in general), you can successfully combat the effects of Coronavirus. Here are several tips to help you do so.

1. People use online services to overcome this situation

If your business is providing an online service or a door-to-door delivery like the majority of e-commerce businesses, chances are that your services are now more in demand than they ever were before. You see, people are turning their backs on traditional retail in favor of e-commerce, seeing as how this approach allows them to keep up with their social distancing practices. In other words, while some industries are not doing so great, your own revenue might go up.

Now, rule of thumb is that you should use about 10 percent of your average annual revenue, however, if the industry is particularly competitive, setting aside anywhere between 20 and 50 percent may be acceptable. If your revenue is growing, so should your marketing spending. Just keep in mind that you’re not the only one with this idea. Since about 33 percent of all online searches end with the No.1 result, chances are that your position on the SERPs will determine your audience and your revenue. This means that when it comes to your Google position, now’s not the time to start being skimpy.

2. People consume more content

The next thing you need to understand about coronavirus and its consequences is the fact that they’re keeping people indoors consuming more digital content and craving more entertainment. This is why, despite the fact that some industries are currently doing quite poorly (manufacturing, energy, etc.), online businesses are on a steady rise. More apps are getting downloaded than ever before, more shows binged and more video games played. Other than this, people are watching more YouTube, spending more time on social media and, overall, consuming all sorts of content from traditional text-based posts all the way to podcasts. Ensuring a better position for your content, through SEO, is, therefore, a great idea.

3. A campaign to counter the effects

In order to protect your business, you need to know exactly what you’re up against. This means getting the right assessment of your current situation and the effects that this situation may have on your business, as a whole. The first step in getting this done lies in hiring the right team. In order to get the maximum effect out of your digital marketing campaign, you can’t leave anything to chance. Ideally, you would find a trusted SEO reseller that specializes in white label SEO. This should provide you with an end-to-end SEO service. DIY SEO methods can be quite effective but without a bigger picture, they’ll never give you what you truly desire.

4. Cutting less leads to bigger returns

Saving money is a good idea, in general, however, saving money at any cost is never a smart move. Why? In the past, we had several financial disasters and crises and all of them showed one thing. By cutting less during downtime, you’re gaining more in better times. Why is that so? Well, first of all, you’re not disrupting your business, which means that you need to take a smaller leap in order to get back to your full capacity. Second, due to the fact that you’re demonstrating resilience, you’re creating a stronger case in the eyes of your audience and potential investors.

5. A chance to overcome your competitors

Even though we’ve listed many reasons why keeping up with your marketing is such a good idea, there are a lot of your competitors that are going to ignore this advice entirely. Some of these competitors even had bigger marketing budgets than your own enterprise, which means that, in regular conditions, you had a tough time overcoming them. This is where your SEO plays huge in days to come. By providing your business with higher Google rank and better SERPs, you’re demonstrating a clear superiority of your brand over theirs. Due to the fact that these companies were industry top-dogs in the pre-COVID-19 days, your feat will seem even more impressive in the eyes of your audience. In other words, you’re using the strength of their own brand to your own advantage.

6. Checking the customer sentiment

It goes without saying that a lot of customers are changing their shopping habits in isolation. Why? Well, first of all, the fact that they may soon be in a much worse financial state makes them reconsider their priorities. In other words, they’re more reluctant to spend money on luxury goods and services. Also, due to the fact that they’re not going out so much, they’re less likely to spend money on clothing and jewelry items. The same goes for all sorts of cosmetic goods. Still, all of this is situational and depends on the region and the service in question. A great SEO analytics effort can help you figure this one out quite effortlessly.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, combating the Coronavirus impact will require a lot of PR and sometimes, exploiting the rising organic traffic might be the best way to do so. Inbound marketing is quite effective at subtly making a great impression on your audience, which is just what you need, at the moment. However, this requires a lot of technical knowledge and strategy development, which is why you definitely need some professional help. Needless to say, moments of crisis are the time for you to display your entrepreneurial prowess.

The True Cost of Hiring the Wrong Employee

Image: Unsplash

Making one bad hire might not seem like a huge blip on the radar. However, the negativity associated with the wrong fit could send ripples throughout your organization. This can impact your business’s bottom line in a variety of ways.

Below are several ways hiring the wrong person can impact your business.

Budget

Taking the time to find the right candidate requires resources in time spent and the costs associated with paying for ads on job searching platforms. Then, when you bring the new hire in, there’s onboarding. After all of this, if the employee isn’t the right fit, you’ll have to repeat the process again, requiring more time and money spent.

How much could this cost your business? On average, one bad hire could set a company back $14,900 — and this is for just one employee. This number also doesn’t take into consideration the costs to replace them or to retain other employees. The Undercover Recruiter states bad hires cost organizations on average $240,000.

This is a sizeable expense that not only impacts your company’s bottom line, it can affect other areas of your business as well.

Employee Morale and Culture

Finding the right fit both from a skillset and culture fit perspective benefits both the new employee and your current employees.

However, what happens if the culture isn’t the right fit? A change in culture could lead to more stress on the job for everyone involved, especially if there are clashes in communication styles or a drop in production. In turn, this could result in your employees looking for other employment opportunities.

Rounding back to the budget, retention is a key driver of hiring costs. It isn’t cost-effective to hire the best fit alone, you also want to retain your employees, as this reduces training and onboarding costs and improves employee morale since everyone fits in together; this is why company culture plays a huge role in finding the right fit.

One bad hire could disrupt community continuity. While it’s good to hire candidates who provide fresh, valuable perspectives to your business, it’s also important to examine how they fit into the department they’ll be in. Will their communication styles mesh well with others in their department? Do they share the same occupational values?

These are important considerations because you want to make the transition as seamless as possible. When there are cultural disruptions, it can impact your company and the customers you serve.

Customer Experience

Your customer experiences are vital to your organization’s success. If you hire the wrong person in a client-facing position, then it’s your company that will suffer from a loss in sales.

The reason for this is that brands want to provide a unified approach to communicating with customers. This gives clients the perspective that everyone in the organization is on the same page — a key indicator of a well-run company. If you hire someone who doesn’t grasp or, even worse, doesn’t care about the company’s identity, this will show itself when speaking with customers. This could damage your company’s reputation irreversibly.

Driving Away Potential Hires

When prospective employees search for jobs, they have more tools at their disposal now than ever before. One way they examine whether a company is right for them is by reading employee reviews on sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. Some may also read customer reviews to gauge how well an employer treats their clients.

With these factors in mind, if you made the wrong choice(s) as it relates to hiring, employees will take notice of this. This could reflect in employee reviews of a company, as they question leadership’s decision-making abilities. As a prospective employee, reading these kinds of reviews will make you think twice about applying with them. After all, if there are inherent problems in leadership, how good can the company culture be?

Culture is everything to employees, and reputation is everything to employers. So, here’s how to hire the right candidates the first time.

Employing Best Practices

You want to take your time to find the best fit for your company. Doing this requires a concerted effort among everyone involved in the hiring process from senior and departmental leadership to even your IT team, who can use AI to help you craft accurate and engaging job descriptions.

Along with an accurate job description, you want to create benefit packages that attract and retain the best talent. This makes your employees feel valued and gives them more incentives to participate. Furthermore, when you do find good prospective candidates, it’s important to test their skills. This is where skill assessments are vital. Not only does this allow the candidate to showcase whether or not they can do some of the duties of the job, but it also tests the validity of their resume.

Lastly, you want to build a company culture that finds, welcomes, and nurtures the right fit for your organization’s needs. As part of this process, you’ll want to establish an onboarding program that clearly defines your company’s culture and how your employee(s) fit into it. This will help them transition into the role while also knowing what’s expected of them.

Ultimately, hiring the wrong employee can have a multi-pronged effect that could affect all areas of your business. By using these tips, you increase your chances of hiring the right employee the first time.

How to Fast Forward your Employee’s Career

Your employees’ professional growth doesn’t happen overnight. Developing people’s skills needs investment of thought, time and love in order to create meaningful change. Ideally a manager becomes a mentor. They provide guidance and coaching to evolve employee skill-sets, knowledge and confidence. With managers acting as the catalyst for progression, we’ve pinpointed five ways to effectively advance your employee’s career path.

Align your business goals

When you’re working closely with your employees, don’t forget to feed back the “bigger picture” to them. You can coach people in leadership qualities all day long but it’s pointless if you’re not communicating why. Employees motivation to excel can diminish if they don’t feel valued or believe they can create an impact for the company. Realistically, how empowered would your employees feel if they’re given the freedom to make smart, informed decisions however they still need to run their ideas by you before making moves? Communicate the objectives and company goals before anything else, and provide freedom for them to actually reach these.

Create a career development plan

Having conversations around career progressions is the first step in gauging employee development, but it’s important to follow up with implementing achievable objectives. This encourages employees to formulate their goals so they can actively execute them. Create a space where you can collaborate openly on short-term and long-term career goals and most importantly how these can be achieved. If you’re not sure where role progression can evolve, check out Search Party’s Career Path Tool to see all possible options.

Articulate expectations

Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is a popular technique to setting and communicating goals and results in organisations. The main purpose for OKRs is to connect the company, team and individual’s personal objectives to measurable results, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction. The structure is fairly straightforward.

  • Define 3-5 key objectives on company, team or personal levels. These must be qualitative, ambitious and time bound.
  • Under each objective, define 3-4 measurable results based on growth performance, revenue or engagement.

When OKRs are a place and remain transparent across all teams, employees have complete clarity of knowing what’s expected of them and have something to work towards. Defining these can take into account career progressions or onboarding new responsibilities or projects and when you’re able to measure you’re also able to mentor. No wonder OKR’s are loved by tech giants like Google, Twitter, and Oracle. It’s a proven process that genuinely works.

Actively identify new opportunities within the organisation

When employees begin to seek new experiences or want to build their portfolio of skill-sets, 9 times out of 10 they’ll leave their current organisation rather than take on a new role in a different area within their current company. And it’s no surprise that losing talent and re-training new starters is timely and costly for managers. However this behaviour can be avoided if there is real encouragement and facilitation of internal transfers. Speak with the individual about what skills they would like to gain or areas they wish to excel in and then identify all possible new opportunities and paths they can explore within the organisation. Mentors are those who can look beyond their own areas or personal needs for growth opportunities, even if it means they’re losing a great asset.

Encourage developmental assignments

Developmental assignments come from the opportunity to initiate something new that an employee takes the majority of the reigns with. Internal projects, new product lines or championing a change such as adopting new technology or a restructure in workflows are all great ways to allow employees to step outside of their comfort zones. These kind of initiatives are the gateway into harbouring new skill-sets and embracing areas not usual to their daily tasks. Enabling employees to lead or manage side projects or totally new initiatives are the stepping stones into project management fields and opens a huge number of doors into other leadership roles.

Although most CEOs understand the importance of employee development, the sad truth is that they don’t devote the necessary time into excelling them into greater things. But the proof really is in the pudding. The more effort you put into developing employees, the higher the employee retention, productivity, engagement, turnover…the list goes on!

If you’re unsure as to where career progression can take you or your employees, Search Party have developed a nifty Career Path Tool. Simply type in your current role, and see how careers of people who’ve been in your shoes developed. Or, type in your dream job and see which paths can take you there. Check it out and let us know what you think!


Originally published by Search Party on 29 August 2016.

How to Build a Stellar Brand and Rock the Social Media Ecosystem

In a vast and diverse online landscape, there are many channels and tools to explore. In the midst of all the digital hustle and bustle, major social platforms stand as real giants. From their shoulders, brands can extend their reach and make their messages resonate with a global audience.

Indeed, many businesses have managed to work miracles with their social media accounts. They became globally recognizable and have enhanced their bottom line in the process. But, make no mistake that this is a huge endeavor. Namely, one has to find a way to form a killer strategy and execute it in order to stand out among cohorts of competitive brands.

A tumultuous social age

Social media platforms are a next big business frontier. Consumers flock there to casually share and comment, but also interact with brands and get to know their human face. This creates immense opportunities to engage and delight. Of course, making it happen is much easier said than done. It requires a rock-solid strategy and a long-term commitment.

One of the first things to figure out is which network to pick as a distribution channel. You might want to use more than one but bear in mind that spreading yourself too thin is not the best idea, especially if you’re working with limited resources. The basic rule is simple: You have to be present on hubs that your target audience frequents.

An angle of approach

A thorough research is the cornerstone of your branding strategy. It allows you to tell in advance, with relative certainty, whether your campaigns will hit the mark or not. Just be aware that adults aged 18-34 are the most likely to follow a brand via social media (96%). So, if you cater to the older population, you might want to think twice before investing in branding there.

In general, networks with the largest user base (like Facebook and Twitter) offer an unparalleled reach and should be considered first. Then again, there are some niche platforms that could make sense in terms of what you do and industry sector you operate in. Likewise, image-heavy networks such as Pinterest and Instagram are a great marketing landscape to dispense your product photos and other visual assets.

Name of the social game

In any event, once you weigh all the pros and cons and identify the best channel, come up with a game plan on how to engage the audience there. To get inspired, you can take lessons from some of the best thought-out campaigns out there. They all have something in common: a deep understanding that modern businesses must add value to the lives of the customers.

Moreover, established brands are well aware that social media profiles pose powerful customer service tools. They provide around-the-clock support and display impressive responsiveness. Also, they keep up to date with prominent trends such as the surge in mobile usage. There were 2.56 billion of global social media users who accessed those networks via mobile devices in 2017. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to tailor the experience to their wants and needs.

Coming on top

There are some other trends that enable your brand to get into the limelight. Visual content reigns supreme: it is 40 times more likely to be shared than other types of content. So, ramp up your image and video production capacities. A good example is to use mockups for your brand content as quality content is an integral part of all good campaigns. Just make sure to produce a regular stream of it in accordance with your content calendar.

Furthermore, note that, although people discuss brands quite a lot, 96% of users does not actually follow brand-owned accounts. This is to say that businesses have to get creative and navigate around the distrust or weariness that users tend to exhibit towards businesses. The trick is to look beyond your corporate channels and launch campaigns that deviate from the traditional advertising logic.

Stay vigilant

Next, let us address one thing that often gets overlooked: keeping track of key performance indicators is vital. In other words, implement a robust social media monitoring strategy. Monitor non-branded conversations for brand mentions. Evaluate your engagement rates and how many social signals you generate. Actively manage brand health at all times. Stay flexible and adjust your strategy should it fail to bear fruit.

This may seem like a daunting task, but rest assured that social media branding pays rich dividends in the long run.

Around 71% of customers who have had a positive experience with a brand recommends it to others. Hence, you have a chance to make the most of word-of-mouth promotion and spread awareness far and wide.  Finally, remember that social signals, although not an official ranking factor, do affect your position in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

Polishing the competitive edge

Social media networks are major public arenas for brand-building. Before diving in, you need to test the digital waters and use acquired insights to create targeted campaigns.

Create a branded environment where customers feel appreciated and valued. Keep an eye on trends to stay on top of the game. Learn how to tell an engaging story and social media user people in. This should enable you to build lasting foundations of trust with your existing customers and win new people over at the same time.

Carry out branding with the maximum marketing impact: Get the word out there and cut through the marketing noise like a knife through hot butter.